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    War is Hell …


    2013 - 03.05

    Imagine you and your squad need to get to re-enforce a military base. You need to cross a minefield. But alas, these mines are cloaked. The only way you can cross is to send wave after wave of your own men to determine where the mines are by avoiding the bloody mess left by your former friends ( yes most of this was a Zapp Brannigan quote ).

    Now imagine, instead of a gritty real life war simulation, it’s a computer game you can play online with all your friends. And random strangers.

    Welcome to Mine Your Step

    The above is a screenshot after much testing of the first level. Guide the army dude from his starting position, to the bunker. Invisible minefields are everywhere. Stepping on one, and a brief explosion later you have to start again. Sounds unfair? It is. Remember, before I started the testing, the field looked more like this :

    The blood marks are all from my old attempts to try and reach the bunker. Each bloody pile of guts when mouse over-ed will tell you the name of who died, and when they died. Semper Fi.

    What benefits do you have? Aside from an exhaustible supply of army dudes? Every one plays in the same game. You step on a mine, your blood splat appears in their game. They explode in their game, it appears in yours. There is no way to win this game alone. Only by the entire internet joining together and sending wave after wave of themselves into the minefields will you be able to determine the safe route home. And by the entire internet, I mean a small group of people, because otherwise my hosting company will probably complain πŸ™‚

    This was an idea I had on Sunday and have just got it too a workable point. I want to add some bling, sound effects, logos etc; but quite happy with how is. Got ten levels so far, each one getting increasingly more evil.

    Any ideas or comments? Let me know! Hopefully the slaughter will start this week πŸ™‚

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    OneGameAMonth


    2013 - 01.31

    As you can tell from my last post, I’ve entered OneGameAMonth, an indie gamejam which probably needs no explanation as to its purpose. I’d highly recommend any indie dev have a look at it, the website is pretty fantastic, gamified in quite an awesome way. At the time of writing, after a month of development, there are currently 784 games uploaded there – which I think is a hell of an amazing achievement. So many ideas and games in one place. It is pretty exciting to say the least.

    I really do like the idea of producing a game a month. I ( like a lot of developers ) tend to get caught up with massive grandiose dreams which very often seem to escape our reach. Having a regular deadline in which you know you must release something I think is incredibly motivating – a month being an ample amount of time to produce a simple game and add polish.

    My first game is up there and you can check my profile out here. Already started jotting down notes for February’s game. Feel free to leave some feedback there if you like ( or hate ) what I’m doing. I’m always up for attention πŸ™‚

    Many thanks to @mcfunkypants and @LZAntal for setting this up, and I am really excited at what will come from it πŸ™‚

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    The Tombs of Tutankhamen


    2013 - 01.30

    Introducing …. The Tombs of Tutankhamen

    ss2

    This, as mentioned in my earlier post, is a remake of an old BBC Microcomputer game I spent far to long as a child playing. I’ve kept as loyal to the original as possible, but brought the movement, controls and scrolling up to what is the ‘norm’ these days. I’ve also added touch screen controls to it, so it is playable on mobile devices. Mobiles controls are not as nice as I want, but I want to re-visit them later and use on-screen buttons.

    It’s powered by the awesome HTML5 – using the very cool impact.js framework. Really enjoyed working with impact, but I’ll talk about that another day. I must admit, I was rather shocked at the speed of the main game loop when dealing with the canvas. Seems browsers are starting to get quite good at this graphical nonsense πŸ™‚ Anyway, without further ado :

    How to Play The Tombs of Tutankhamen

    Story :
    You are Doctor Procman, who has found yourself trapped in the Tombs of Tutankhamen. After deciphering hieroglyphics over an ancient and dusty altar you discover the only way to escape is to collect the 16 crowns and find the exit. Unfortunately, five colour coded doors stand in your way. You must find the keys inside scattered around the tomb to unlock additional areas. To add to the stress, there are boulder traps which will stop you from turning around. Oh and did I mention there are huge giant green spiders that will kill you if you get too close? Yeah, thats right, giant green spiders.

    Controls :
    Arrow keys to move
    R to commit suicide ( in case you get stuck, or just bored with life )
    Mouse click to mute music and change volume

    Notes :
    This game is pretty hard. You won’t complete it on your first game, you will need to learn the rooms. The one-way traps in the original are all present in this version and boy do they hurt πŸ™‚ ‘R’ is your friend there. The spiders move at different speeds, you will need to judge your runs very carefully. There are two easter eggs in the game, one of which may come back to haunt me πŸ™‚ The map itself is made of 16 rooms, you may need to scribble down some routes on a bit of paper. Five coloured keys exist and when you pick them up, the matching door will vanish. You can gain access to the last door fairly simply, but it will not open until you have all 16 crowns.

    The game can be found here : http://www.greenslimegames.com/games/html5/tut/. You will need a modern browser to play it. If you find any bugs feel free to let me know! This is my entry to OneGameAMonth which I shall be talking about tomorrow πŸ™‚ Oh, and my profile there is : http://www.onegameamonth.com/BeeBug_Nic feel free to leave some fan mail <3

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    BBC Basic – Storing a level


    2013 - 01.27

    My first computer was a BBC Model B micro-computer.

    beeb

    Sexy looking thing isn’t it? The baby had 32K of memory, could support 8 colours ( slightly more with various tricks ) and came installed with BBC Basic, my first programming language. In the dreamy days of the 1980s there were a lot of computer magazines – most of which featured source code listings of programs you could type in into your home computer and play with. This was very cool – however, the drawback was a lot of these programs where quite long – and typing them into the computer had all sorts of issues ( no copy and paste for one thing ). So, my Dad, upon seeing a program that he really wanted to type in decided to stick me in front of the computer and get me typing it out for him. I remember him telling Mum that it will teach me how to use a keyboard, which will be a valuable life lesson. How right he was. Personally, however, I think he was just being lazy πŸ˜‰

    I became fascinated with typing in the programs I found in magazines and how by changing the code I could change the program ( and more often than not break it completely ). This of course started my life long love of coding. Recently, I’ve decided to learn HTML5, a far cry from BBC Basic, but I was feeling nostalgic and decided my first HTML5 game would actually be a remake of the first game I ever played – The Tomb of Tutankhamen. I remember spending many hours with my brother and sister playing this game. As an explorer you had to collect crowns, avoid spiders and escape a 16 room pyramid. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I managed to find a copy of a magazine which contained the full source code of the game. The magazine was called Beebug ( might see a connection with my twitter name there πŸ˜‰ ) and was a long running magazine aimed at people with BBC Microcomputers.

    So I sat down one snowy night and decided to try and extract the level data from the source code. After much consulting of very old manuals I managed to decode the game, and lots of it really, really impressed me. Without such structured programming as we have today and with such a small amount of memory, so many neat tricks and techniques were used. The one that I thought was uber cool was how the level data was saved.

    The game has 16 rooms, the code for one the rooms look like this :

    2850 DATA 2,2,2,2,2,6,0,16
    2860 DATA FF09ED21BD01FF01F5C511DD
    

    The first number, believe it or not, was the line number πŸ™‚ DATA is the command to indicate that you are storing, well, data. Now the first numbers represent things like the colour used to draw the screen, where the enemy was on the screen, things like that. The actual structure of the level was stored in the long hex string.

    By looping through the hex string two at a time, you get the following :

    FF
    09
    ED
    21
    BD
    01
    FF
    01
    F5
    C5
    11
    DD

    How does that help us? Well, what if we converted these hex values to decimals ?

    255
    9
    237
    33
    189
    1
    255
    1
    245
    197
    211

    Hmmmmm, still doesn’t look like a level to me – lets try converting it into binary and pad out all strings with 0 where they are not 8 long

    11111111
    10010000
    11101101
    10000100
    10111101
    10000000
    11111111
    10000000
    11110101
    11000101
    10001000
    11011101

    Looks like a bunch of 1’s and 0’s. Here is a screenshot of a page I used as a programming jotter, to check my theory :

    maze

    We have a level! πŸ™‚ now, piecing together all these DATA strings gives you a view of the entire map :

    maze2

    Now, I have no idea why the levels were encoded like this. Maybe it was to protect the level data, maybe it was to save space or memory, maybe it was to stop children from making mistakes typing in long lines of 1s and 0s when they had been sat infront of a computer by their father. But either way, I thought this was a very nifty and cool way of solving the problem of level storage πŸ™‚

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    EmpireAvenue Thoughts


    2012 - 08.11

    While doing some research into social media gaming in view of writing a another one ( because let’s face it – SoulHunter was about as popular as a free bacon hand out at a pigs against animal cruelty convention ) and stumbled upon EmpireAvenue. After making some share trading type games before, I thought I would give it a go. The concept behind EmpireAvenue is simple – buying and selling shares in people based upon their online presence aimed at building brand awareness – like Klout, but instead of +K’s you trade with imaginary money. Initially, I got bored pretty quickly – the interface itself is pretty dull, though functional and I found myself wondering what was the point. I logged out and forgot about it.

    A week later I stumbled upon it again, and logged in to see what had happened to my stock price. Not surprisingly, my stock worth had fallen and I imagined in some virtual boardroom my investors were angrily sitting around a big oak table calling me nasty names. So, I decided to have another go at it and started interacting with the site, doing missions, buying and selling people etc; Part of writting this post is conductive to see how it actually relates to getting real eyeballs on pages – the code in the first sentance of this post is a validiation code to get this blog [ EDIT : Code removed as I got verified, and it looked real ugly πŸ™‚ ] verified – very interested to see if traffic increases or not once it gets verified. I noticed my stock price increasing steadily and I will say it is a strangely addictive experience.

    As for using EmpireAvenue for brand awarness, I’m not sure I’m seeing a lot of return for the time spent ‘playing’ – I’m enjoying the ‘game’ ( note the quote marks πŸ™‚ ) but don’t think I’m seeing any major pull from it – met a few interesting people, and read some interesting things but still it is earlier days, I guess πŸ™‚ For those who have read this far, I guess it is probably a good idea to mention my profile – there is no affiliate code or anything like this lurking in the url, so feel free to have a look : BeebugNic on EmpireAvenue.

    There is quite a large amount of data availible from an API – which is always a huge turn on for any web-based service. Well, atleast for me, prehaps I’m going odd in my old age. Might very well have a play around with that later and seeing if I can grab any interesting info from it πŸ™‚ Anyway, I’m sure I will report back in a while with additional thoughts about EmpireAvenue.

    And to reward anyone who got this far, here is my awesomely amazing peice of advice for playing EmpireAvenue :

    Spam refresh on the homepage ( the one with the new users section ) – the moment you see any new user with a female avatar, buy 200 shares in them. Users who have a female picture in them will almost always start to shoot up very quickly – much quicker than male/no picture/slime monster pictures.

    Thoughs/views and comments are always welcome πŸ™‚ I’ll definately blogging again with any further thoughts πŸ™‚

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